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Academically-gifted M'Kaylah Jackson starting to tap into potential as sprinter at Cherokee Bluff
M'Kaylah Jackson, center, wins the 100-meter dash during the Hall County championships on March 19, 2022 in Flowery Branch. - photo by Bill Murphy

When Cherokee Bluff’s M’Kaylah Jackson was on the fence about continuing her track running career early in high school, its coach Matthew Brick came to her with a convincing sales pitch.

Brick knew she had a special talent, based off Jackson’s abbreviated showing as a freshman in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season. 

So the Lady Bears’ track coach went to Jackson with a ‘virtual meet’ to show where she stood among girls in Hall County and Region 7-3A for the future season, based off prior performances. 

That’s all it took to spark an interest for Jackson, a junior, who is now ranked No. 5 in the state in the 100-meter dash. 

“I’m the kind of person who likes to know the why,” said Jackson, who carries a 4.5 GPA. “When I saw where I would (probably) place, I was like, ‘how could I not run?’”

On March 19, Jackson cruised to titles in the 100 meter (12.2 seconds) and 200 (26.3) at the Hall County championships. 

She was also a big part of the Lady Bears’ win in the 400 relay (49.9). 

In addition to natural talent, Brick said that Jackson provides a valuable piece of the puzzle with its program. 

“M’Kaylah is just a great kid, has a great spirit,” Brick said. “If the world had more people like M’Kaylah, that would be pretty cool.”

Brick, who coached 35 combined state champions during his career at Pope and McEachern, said that Jackson has the natural ability and drive it takes to bring home state championships in Class 3A. 

However, the only hurdle was getting her to see that same potential. 

After the 2021 season-ending banquet, Brick felt like he finally had Jackson hooked. 

She was on board with taking part in a rigorous training schedule, trying to shave some time off those events to become a force to contend with in the state. 

Jackson did what it took, even though it wasn’t always fun. 

“Summer conditioning was hot, exhausting and I didn’t always want to be there,” Jackson said. “Everyone else was spending time at the pool.”

The talented sprinter at Cherokee Bluff said she also learned to accept constructive criticism. 

Slowly, but surely, the times started to improve for Jackson. 

Jackson, who is also a dedicated member of the cheerleading squad at Cherokee Bluff, is now garnering Division-I attention as a sprinter. 

Her favorite event is the 100, where she hopes to contend for a state championship in Carrollton, starting May 12.

“She’s definitely got a chance,” Brick said.  

Cherokee Bluff’s coach said she is fully capable of going under 12 seconds by the end of the season. 

She’s also closing in on the 25-second mark in the 200, which is kind of the benchmark for elite Division-I programs. 

Jackson said her work ethic comes from parents, Greg and Monica Jackson. 

Sports has become such an integral part of Jackson’s life that she wants to pursue a future career in sports broadcasting. 

Three years into her high school career, Jackson has amassed five county championships and three region titles in 2021. 

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